by Mike Ratliff
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13 NASB)
When I see or hear so-called Christians speak of God prospering them because of their faith or see Pastors or “Evangelists” with their own private jets, huge homes and limousines there is a bad taste that forms in my mouth. From the birth of the Church until now there have been those professing to be Christians who are anything but. They major in minors while ignoring the major points of our faith. They take passages of scripture out of context to make it say that it supports their aberrant forms of Christian theology. The huge tragedy of this, of course, is how many blindly follow them thinking they are Christian, when they are nothing but False Teachers who love money. Money is their idol and idolatry always leads to spiritual blindness.
There is such a thing as sound doctrine. How can we tell the difference between it and false doctrine?
3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:3-10 NASB)
Sound doctrine agrees with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and is in accord with godliness. What does that mean? It means that we must study Jesus’ words from the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John always seeking the literal sense of them, never allegorizing what is not an allegory. From His words and the teachings from the rest of the Bible we learn what true godliness is. Genuine Christian teaching will never violate these two principles.
In this passage, Paul gives us 3 characteristics of false teachers. First, they teach contrary to sound doctrine. That may sound simplistic, but it is often overlooked by people without discernment. Man thinks he is a reasoning being, but, in fact, the Bible is very clear that unregenerate man is depraved in mind. Humanistic reasoning can never stand before then light of God’s truth. False teachers preach a different doctrine that contradicts God’s revelation of His truth from scripture. Second, They do not consent to the wholeness of God’s Word as being errorless and unchangeable. Third, Since they reject this, their teachings are not according to scripture and are, therefore, unholy leading to godlessness in their ministries instead of godliness. False teachers will be marked by sin and they use their ministries to get rich because their real love is for money and power.
False teachers, to support their false doctrines, must create disputes over words. They argue about the meaning of passages in the Bible because if they submit to what it really says then they stand condemned. However, since they are not Spirit-led, but flesh driven, they do not understand divine truth. They are constantly arguing about terminology and must attack the authority of scripture. The ministries of these false teachers produces nothing godly because the source is only their fleshly, greedy minds instead of from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
False teachers are apostates. This is no fun for me to write about. Apostasy is a terrible thing. Apostates are those who once knew and seemed to profess faith and adherence to God’s truth. However, they have now turned to full rejection of it. I have never seen an apostate who did not do so publicly. There seems to be two camps. One camp turns completely from Christianity and become full enemies of our faith in their atheism or they may embrace a false religion such as Islam or Buddhism. The other camp appear to be Christians, but they teach a version that is not Christian at all. It is bound to some form of Humanism. Think of Word/Faith preachers such as Benny Hinn or Pelagians such as Joel Osteen or Modalists such as T.D. Jakes.
What marks genuine teachers of God’s truth who teach sound doctrine? Instead of going around trying to build private kingdoms and becoming rich, they are content. They are satisfied with the Lord’s provision. They are content because they can do all things through God who strengthens them. All Christians should seek to be content in God’s provision and not seek self-indulgent gain. Why? To do so is an expression of a love for money. This love is the root of all kinds of evil. Those who are in love with money fall into temptations that cause compromises in their ministries and their walk before the Lord.
How should we respond to this?
11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. (1 Timothy 6:11-16 NASB)
Soli Deo Gloria!